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Developing Quality Flank Play

Drill Objective(s) 
  1. Develop players’ ability to produce quality delivery from crossing opportunities. 
  2. Develop players’ ability to finish from crosses. 
  3. Develop players’ ability to distribute varied types of crosses. 
  • Drill No:               CRO1
  • Age:                    12-Adult                             
  • No Players:        16 (+2GK)
  • Difficulty:            Intermediate
  • Area/Time:         65x45yrds  (30mins)

Diagram 1

 
ORGANISATION:

Set up a playing area of 65x45yrds.  The playing area is split into 3 zones.  There are two channel areas on the side of the playing area (Zone 1 and Zone 2). These channels are marked out by cones.  An outfield player from each team is placed in these outside channels. Initially for the unopposed practice teams have 5 players (including the wing players placed in the channels). 2 GKs are positioned in full size goals. A supply of balls is kept in the centre of the playing area. If you have additional players they can remain at the centre cone and rotate on each attack. 

INSTRUCTIONS:

Each team attacks a goal practicing unopposed attacking routines. The coach outlines the type of cross for the team to work on (i.e. Near post, far, cut back. Low, Early, etc). Each attack should have 2 forwards, a midfielder who sits a little deeper, a crosser and the opposite side winger.

  1. The ball is passed wide to one of the flank players 9 (A1).
  2. Dependent on the rules below, the flank player then either dribbles, takes a touch and crosses, or crosses first time.
  3. The ball is crossed in using a particular type of cross. The 2 strikers (A2&A3) attack the cross, along with A4 and also A5 who comes in to finish deep.

Once an attack is complete, the team turns and returns to the opposite goal playing through the other team, picking up another ball on its way and attacking the opposite end.

The coach should request the following types of crosses:

  • Near Post – Ball delivered in fast, relatively low (not hanging) to the early running forward.
  • Far Post – High hanging ball, to the back of the second 6yrd area for the deep forward or the far outside midfielder to come in and attack.
  • Cut Back – Ball cut back from the end line at an angle (approx. 30 to 60 degrees). Usually played on the ground to the midfielder.
  • Early Cross – Ball played in behind the defense with early delivery to expose the gap between the back line and GK.

Diagram 2 – Progression 8vs8 (+2 GK)

Progression to 8vs8 (+2GK). Play 6vs6 in the central playing area. Require 3 passes in the central playing area before the ball can be played wide to a wing (flank) player. Once the ball is out with the flank players a number of rules (shown below) can be applied by the coach to develop a variety of attacking options from crosses.

Rules

  • Rule 1 - Flank player can dribble using unlimited touches prior to crosses the ball in.
  • Rule 2 - Flank player is limited to 2 touches prior to crosses the ball in. Flank player is limited to 1 touch prior to crosses the ball in. This requires good measured passing on the set-up.
  • Rule 3 – An opposing player (i.e. defender) is allowed to enter the channels area and press or tackle the winger.
  • Rule 4 – Flank players are now allowed (on receiving a pass in the channel) to dribble into the central playing area and cross or shoot.
  • Rule 5 – Goals can only be scored from a specific type of cross nominated by the coach (i.e. Near Post, Far Post, Cut Back).
  • Finally, the rules can be removed and have free play, with players allowed in any areas of the field. A goal counts double if it is initiated from one of the channels.

Diagram 3 – Rules 1-5

SCORING:
Normal in the goals. Channels goals count double in a free play game.
KEY COACHING POINTS:
  1. Quality of the cross to the correct area. Cones can be placed where you want the ball to drop, etc.
  2. Timing and line of the attacking runs by the forwards, central midfielder and far midfielder.
  3. Delivery into the second 6yrd area.
  4. First and Second Phase attempts.
  5. Analyze the decision of what type of cross should be delivered.
  6. Head up to assess the open players.
  7. Discuss pace, curve and spin of the ball on deliveries.
 
PROGRESSIONS:
  1. Rules discussed above. General central area play can also be limited to 2 touch to quicken up the play (3 touch on tackles and interceptions).

VARIATIONS:
  1. Rules discussed above.
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:

This is a highly technical exercise and we are requiring the players to put the ball in very specific places. The timing of runs is important. Attacking the ball and determination to will the ball is also crucial to success. Make sure players do not converge to the same areas when attacking crosses. The runners need to know their jobs to maximize coverage of the crossing target area!

The soccer graphics have been made with Easy Sports-Graphics (www.sports-graphics.com)
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